Prayer Refs

God really wants to hear from us. So prayer ought to be a regular and important part of a disciple’s life. This chapter looks at what prayer is about and how to make your prayers effective and powerful.

1 Kings 18:36-46

Elijah was a man of God-he prayed to God, he worshipped God and he obeyed God. Elijah prayed earnestly and the Lord responded mightily with fire from heaven. Later, when Elijah knelt on the ground in prayer, the Lord heard him and brought rain to the drought-stricken land.
1. What two types of prayer are described in this passage?
2. In each case, what physical position was Elijah in? Does physical position matter in prayer?
3. Elijah believed that his prayer for rain would be answered, so he kept sending his servant to look for rain. Should believers expect prayer to be answered before it actually is? (Look at Mark 11:24).
We need to pray - Jeremiah 33:3, Philippians 4:6, Ephesians 6:18, Luke 18:1

Making prayer live
Expressing your thoughts and feelings to God by words, song, music or meditation is what prayer is all about. It is part of your relationship with the Father. Conversation is an important part of any relationship and requires effort. Make the effort and your prayers will live-God will listen. Here are some aspects of good conversation that you can apply in prayer:

• say what is important and get to the point-be specific;
• think about what you’re going to say before you say it;
• tell the truth;
• don’t be selfish;
• listen rather than just talk;
• follow up after the conversation.
Exercise: Consider these six points. How do these apply to your prayers? Write down three things that can be improved in your conversations with God.

God’s promise to answer
Psalm 34:15; Jeremiah 29:12-13 Malachi 3:16; Matthew 7:7-11; John 14:13-14; 15:7,16; 16:23-24; 1 John 5:14-15.
Time for regular prayer
Daniel 6:10,13; Psalm 5:3; 55:17; 62:8; Luke 18:1; Acts 10:9,30; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Timothy 2:8.
Hindrances to effective prayer
Psalm 66:18; Proverbs 15:8,29; 28:9; Jeremiah 11:14; Mark 11:25-26; 1 Peter 3:7.
Help in prayer
Romans 8:26-27,34.
Powerful prayer
James 5:13-16.
Things to pray about
Psalm 34:1; 96:2; 145:1-3; Matthew 5:44; Luke 21:36; Ephesians 5:20; Philippians 1:3-11; 1 Timothy 2:1-6; James 1:5-8.
Jesus’ teaching on prayer
Mt 6:5-15; 18:19; 21:22; Mark 11:24-25; Luke 11:1-13; 18:1-14.

Where and when to pray
Bible examples of prayer show that it is acceptable to pray anywhere, any time, for anything. If you pray with the right attitude, it doesn’t matter to God where you pray. God cares about what you have to say.

• Elisha shut the door and prayed; 2 Kings 4:33
• Peter prayed on the roof; Acts 10:9
• Nehemiah prayed silently before the king; Nehemiah 2:4
• Daniel prayed three times a day facing Jerusalem; Daniel 6:10,13
• Cornelius prayed at the ninth hour. Acts 10:30

You don’t need a lot of time to pray properly. However, some quiet time with God each day is necessary for a healthy relationship with him. Set aside time for concentrated prayer each day-time in the day when you are not going to be interrupted, when you are on your own with God.

What physical position makes you feel most respectful when you pray? Elijah put his head between his knees, Solomon spread out his hands toward heaven and David sat before the Lord. Your frame of mind is affected by your position. Next time you pray, think about what position you are in. Could it be better?

Praying with friends or family can be very rewarding. Initially, it can be difficult speaking about personal things to others, but it becomes easier. Do you pray with others? Sharing your thoughts and feelings (even your faults-James 5:16) makes you feel closer to your friends/family, it helps others support and encourage you, and it forces you to concentrate on prayer. If you feel that your prayers need improvement, then try praying with someone else. The early believers considered prayer one of the most important parts of their new life:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
(Acts 2:42)

What should I pray for?
Jesus said

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you . . . If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11)

God is your father and cares about you just like a father cares about his child. On another occasion, Jesus said

If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. (John 15:7)
See also John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24; 1 John 5:14-15

He really wanted to get this message across. Three times he said it in the space of an hour or two. God wants us to ask. He is waiting for us to ask. He takes pleasure in answering.

So what does God want you to pray for? Think about the examples below:

• Paul prayed for other people’s spiritual maturity; Ephesians 3:14-21
• Daniel thanked the Lord three times a day; Daniel 6:10
• Believers prayed for Peter in prison; Acts 12:5
• Jesus prayed for protection for his disciples; John 17:11,15
• Paul asked for the “thorn in his flesh” to be removed; 2 Corinthians 12:7-8
• Hannah asked for a son. 1 Samuel 1:10-11

God doesn’t always answer the way we might want. For example, God did not remove Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”. Sometimes,
what we want is not what God knows we need.

Jesus taught the disciples how to pray by giving them the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:6-15) as an example. It is simple, short and specific, and it includes praise, requests, confession and forgiveness. We could also add thanks as an important part of prayer.
Why did Jesus say to ask for daily needs when God already knows what they are?

When God says “no”
When you pray for something, and God does not give it to you, don’t become disheartened or begin to doubt that God hears you. Instead, ask yourself the following questions.

1. Am I asking for the wrong thing? God has promised to give what we ask provided it is “according to his will” (1 John 5:14-15). Is this why God didn’t remove Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”?
It can be hard to decide if you are asking for something according to God’s will. God may want you to survive a rough time to help your spiritual development, or perhaps he has something better for you just around the corner. Hebrews 12:4-11
2. Am I praying regularly about it? God wants you to persist, don’t just ask once or twice and then give up. See Luke 18:1-8 If it’s important, then show God you think it’s important by asking earnestly, specifically and regularly. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
3. Am I ignoring a sin? Unforgiven sin hinders prayer. See Psalm 66:18 and 1 Peter 3:7. If God is not answering your prayer, it may be that you are not admitting a sin.
4. Am I being patient? Sometimes, it takes months or years before God answers a request because the time is not right or it may take a long time to answer. Can you think of biblical examples where prayers took years to be answered?
5. Am I listening? Perhaps God is giving an answer and you do not perceive it.
6. Am I doing my part? God often requires effort from you also. Consider the student who prays for good exam results, then neglects to study. The Lord may not listen if you are not willing to do your part.

• Prayer is an extremely important part of a believer’s life in Christ and before baptism.
• If your attitude is right, God will listen.
• God has promised to give whatever we ask if we believe and allow God’s word to remain in us.
• Keep your prayers simple and specific. Include praise, confession, thanks and requests.

1. Read 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. Why did God grant Jabez’s request for more land and an easy life? Would you feel comfortable asking God for these things?
2. Helen prays for a closer relationship with God but fills her time with trashy music and novels. Jim prays he will win the lottery. Comment on what is wrong with each of these examples.
3. Jesus warns against using meaningless repetition or empty phrases in prayer. How can you avoid this?
4. What does it mean to pray in the “name of Jesus”? Do you need to include these words in a prayer before God will listen?
5. Is it appropriate for believers today to pray for specific direction or signs?
6. What can you do to stop your thoughts drifting in prayer?
7. What did Paul mean when he wrote “pray continually”
(1 Thessalonians 5:17)?

1. Read James 5:14-16; Acts 1:14; 12:5,12. On each of these occasions, “prayer meetings” are mentioned where believers have gathered together specifically for prayer. What are the benefits of praying in groups like this? If you haven’t ever participated in a prayer meeting, why not? If you have participated in a prayer meeting, did you find it helpful?
2. List examples in the Bible of people praying for others. For example, see Luke 6:28; Colossians 4:3; James 5:16; Job
42:8. Compile a list of people you will pray for in the next week.
3. Write about one page describing the role of prayer in your life. Include examples of answered prayers and discuss some specific steps you can take to improve your praying.

• Too busy not to pray by Bill Hybels, (published by Intervarsity Press, 1988). 161 pages. This book is easy to read and an excellent motivator for making your prayers live. He provides many practical suggestions for developing a good prayer habit. But note that some of the doctrinal material in this book is incorrect.
• The new life by John Marshall (published by The Christadelphian, 1971), Chapter 13. 9 pages.
• Prayer: studies in principle and practice by Melva Purkis and Cyril Tennant (published by The Christadelphian, 1971). 94 pages. This is a thoughtful book looking at examples of prayer in the Bible and drawing lessons from them.
• The genius of discipleship by Dennis Gillett (published by The Christadelphian, 1984). Chapters 12-13. 10 pages.
• Reformation, by Harry Whittaker (published by Biblia, 1985). Chapters 4, 24 and 25 cover personal and congregational prayer.
• BBB Study 5

10. Worship
11. Faith
29. Forgiving one another
39. What is Jesus doing now?
48. Worry
52. Led by the Spirit